A demon’s life is never easy. Join Xoe as she’s thrown to the wolves, the werewolves that is. As if witches, human sacrifices, and other demons weren’t enough to deal with, Xoe must struggle to rein in her powers before she sets something more important than a washing machine on fire. If she can’t, her whole life might go up in flames.
This set contains books 1-3 of the Xoe Meyers Series. If you like sarcastic heroines, teen drama, vampires, werewolves, and demons, this book is for you!
Release date: September 19, 2014
Publisher: Vulture's Eye Publications
Print pages: 610
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The Xoe Meyers Series: Books 1-3
Sara C. Roethle
I stared up at the moon, partially obscured by ominous looking clouds. I brushed a loose flake of ash from my hair as I tried to forget the overwhelming, acrid stench of smoke that had nearly overcome my lungs. I shivered. At least I was still alive. I blearily thought back over the past week, knowing my life would never be the same again.
Another year at Shelby Heights High School in not-so-sunny Shelby, Oregon . . . oh joy. Shelby isn’t exactly a small town, but it’s definitely not a city. I’m not much of a “people-person”, so the size is one of the few things I like about Shelby. That, and the woods that surround it. Tall pine trees are never out of reach. I’ve always been outdoorsy. My dad took off shortly after I was conceived and my mom raised me on camping trips and hiking. My name’s Alexondra Meyers, by the way. I know, it's pretty horrible. Mercifully, the few friends I have call me Xoe.
Back to the matter at hand . . . junior year. I am not a fan of high school, or the teenage experience in general. I don’t consider myself antisocial, though most of my fellow students might argue that point. Really, I just don’t like to waste my time with pretense. Why bother being nice to someone I secretly dislike? Why engage in small talk if nothing meaningful is accomplished? I’d rather have a few real friends than a bunch of fake ones.
I trudged toward the towering, gray brick monstrosity that was Shelby High, feeling morose. Where there wasn’t sidewalk or asphalt, the ground was covered with lush, green grass. Shelby is always green and moist, which is nice, except for the mold and mildew that tend to grow if you’re not careful. Once my mom got a new car windshield that wasn’t sealed properly. Within weeks the insides of her windows had grown algae.
I forced my sneakered feet to continue forward, concentrating on the sound of my footfalls, one foot in front of the other. As I approached the dreaded double-doors, my best friend Lucy joined me. We usually walked to school together, but Lucy always arrived at school early on the first day. She liked to “prepare” her locker and map out all of her classes beforehand. She’s a bit of an over achiever, to put it mildly.
Lucy and I pushed through the double doors together. I held onto my door long enough for a girl with a mass of brown curls to grab it and keep it open for herself. See? Not antisocial. I glanced down at the top of Lucy’s dark-haired head as we made our way down the hall.
Lucy and I are complete opposites when it comes to appearance. I’m a giant compared to her. Well, not really a giant, but her petite 5’1” frame makes my willowy 5’8” seem excessive. Her long, dark, glossy hair is in complete contrast to my shaggy, shoulder-length, white-blonde mop. Lucy’s skin is deep olive all year round, whereas mine is pale, and at times, a little pasty, what my mom kindly refers to as porcelain. Did I say that I’m a little jealous of Lucy? If I didn't love her so much, I would probably hate her.
Lucy had chosen dark wash jeans with a pale blue button-up blouse for her first day attire. The tips of conservative brown shoes peeked out from the bottom of her jeans. Lucy’s sense of style errs on the side of caution. Her pin-straight hair was parted down the middle to cascade nearly to her waist, framing her fine-boned, delicate face, void of make-up.
Lucy’s almond-shaped brown eyes peered up into my large green ones, waiting for my whining to begin. She’d had to deal with my complaining on the first day of school every year since second grade. We’d become friends when my mom and I first moved to Shelby, as Lucy’s family lives just down the street from us. Alone and friendless, I had gone exploring in the woods behind my house, against my mom’s strict commands, and Lucy was doing the same. We both had a stubborn independent streak that constantly ordered us to disobey our parents. How could we not be friends?
I glanced out the windows at the other end of the hall as we moved to stand in front of Lucy's locker. To add to my first day misery, the sky above Shelby was an angry gray, promising rain. Black clouds rolled ominously in the distance. So what else was new? I hate the rain. I’m not like a girly-girl that’s afraid to get my hair wet or anything, but I’m at my happiest when I’m outdoors, and it’s not terribly pleasant to be outside when it’s raining. So, despite my pallid appearance, I much prefer the sun. I took a deep breath of the ozone-scented air that flowed in every time the doors opened. Let the whining commence.
“It’s not that bad,” Lucy consoled, taking in my grimace. “We have three classes together and you have two more with Allison. That leaves only one class to trudge through without us.”
Allison was another on my short list of friends, though I'd only known her since freshman year. Lucy and I had met her during our first lunch at Shelby High. Allison's family was new to Shelby, so she didn't know anyone. Rather than taking a seat at one of the loner tables, she had marched right up to where Lucy and I sat, slammed her tray down, and began chatting away like she had known us for years. I was skeptical of Allison's blunt style of friendship at first, but she turned out to be genuine. Plus, she adds a little bit of girliness to our small group.
“A small consolation at best,” I replied sullenly as I looked up at the numbers on the wall of lockers, wondering where mine would be that year.
Lucy hummed happily as she opened her locker and pulled out the book needed for her first class. Her eternally sunny attitude could be quite vexing at times. Though, if she were a pessimist like me, the complaining would never cease. Lucy’s glass half full philosophy made my glass look empty, dirty, and cracked.
Turning to me to take in my dejected expression, Lucy frowned. “I’ll see you in French.”
I managed a small smile, despite my misery. “See you then.”
We parted ways as the first bell rang, and ran toward our respective classes to the sound of clanging lockers and hurried see you laters. I still hadn't found my locker, but it would have to wait.
I trailed my fingertips across the aged walls as I walked, in no real hurry to get to class. Shelby High is old, and I mean old. I could feel the bumps of countless layers of peeling paint beneath my fingers. The newest layer of paint was a pale yellow that was trying hard to be cheery, but fell a little short. I went past a row of faded green lockers, then took a left into my classroom.
My first class of the day, which I had with Allison, was biology. I scowled as I entered the classroom. It was simply too early in the morning for science. The room boasted lab tables instead of desks, making the space feel even more small and cramped than normal classrooms. The buzzing of the fluorescent lights mixed with the din of murmured voices made me feel instantly claustrophobic. I searched across the tables, which were set up to seat two people, with a little sink and electrical outlets in the middle, until my eyes landed on Allison. She waved me over to the table she had reserved for us at the back of the room.
I liked sitting in the back of the class. I don’t enjoy the feeling of people’s eyes on the back of my head, and teachers usually tend to call on people in the front of the class, ignoring the back. It’s not that I don’t understand the questions, I just prefer not to answer them. Allison was more than willing to sit in the back of the class with me.
Lucy was a whole other story. I always tried to lure her to the back, the Dark Side as far as she was concerned. We ended up front and center every time, where she could be sure the teacher called on her when she raised her hand to answer every question. But hey, she diverts the teacher’s attention from me, so I can't really complain.
As I approached, Allison looked me up and down, ending with a look of distaste at my ratty old sneakers. “Xoe, we are going shopping this weekend, no arguments.”
Smirking, I looked down at my dark blue, vintage Doors tee and holey jeans, then at her blue sundress with strappy dark brown sandals, artfully applied makeup, and perfectly styled, long, honey blonde hair. Unlike me, Allison embraces the blonde. She is the master of the hair flip. I’ve never felt like a “blonde”, but I’m too pale to pull off much of anything else, so I just try to ignore it.
At 5’6” Allison almost reaches my height, though she has a few more curves than I do, perfectly accentuated by her dress. She was still staring at my outfit with a perfectly arched eyebrow raised. Maybe Allison had a point. Maybe.
“Sure Allison, whatever you say.” I was keeping the sneakers no matter what clothes she tried to put me in. They were my tried and true favorites, perfectly broken in and shaped to my feet. They had started life a solid black, but had faded to what I considered a rather pleasant gray. Allison took one last look at me, pity in her blue eyes, then turned toward the front of the class.
A throat cleared, bringing my attention to where our teacher, Mrs. Sanders, was waiting. Mrs. Sanders taught both biology and microbiology at Shelby Heights. She was a short, dare I say dumpy kind of woman with a horribly monotonous voice. She stared at me in mock exasperation until I slumped dejectedly into my hard plastic chair.
Mrs. Sanders went on to drone for an hour about her syllabus and all that other nonsense, with occasional pauses to straighten her lumpy pink cardigan. I drew on the cover of my notebook and tried to ignore her. By the time class was near its end, my notebook was covered with a mish-mash of nonsensical doodles.
Impatient for the bell to ring, I shoved my books back into the green backpack I used every year, throwing my pencil in haphazardly on top. I watched the clock, counting away the final seconds of class.
Finally the bell rang, and it was off to my next two hours of torture: French and World History. Even though I’d be with Lucy, I knew time would creep by at an alarmingly slow rate. I’m horrible at French, the pronunciation is simply beyond me, and World History is, well, World History. When I entered my French class, Lucy was already sitting front and center. Her new navy blue backpack was sitting in the seat next to her, waiting for me to take its place. After what seemed like days of words I didn’t understand, followed by a lengthy discussion on “the cradle of civilization”, it was finally time for lunch—my brief reprieve from the monotony.
The cafeteria is one of the few spacious areas in Shelby High. The brightly lit fluorescents are diffused by the copious amount of natural light that pours in from several large single-pane windows mounted in two of the walls. My little group always claimed the same table at the beginning of each year. It was in a corner, so we only had to deal with two other tables near us, rather than four. We were also stationed directly below one of the aforementioned windows. Said window looked out over the courtyard area of Shelby High, which is basically just a large square of grass with several picnic tables stationed in the center. On rare sunny days we would eat outside.
Occasionally other acquaintances would sit with us, but most of the time it was just us three, and that was the way we liked it. Well, I liked it at least. Allison and Lucy are slightly more social than I am.
Lucy and I waited at our usual table with our bagged lunches while Allison bought hers. Allison’s willingness to eat school lunches made me seriously question her sanity. Let’s just say they weren’t always identifiable as food products. Her justification was that she didn’t do lunchboxes.
Bored, I scanned the lunch line for Allison, but a boy staring in my direction caught my eye first. He stood watching me with an empty tray in his hands, reminding me of a robot or some other mindless automaton. His short, near-black hair was styled to perfection. His pale blue eyes, emphasized by a deep tan, stared intensely at me. His stood at around 6’3” with a hulking frame that strained against a plain gray tee-shirt, topped by a simple brown leather jacket.
As I observed him he continued to stare, pursing his full lips that I imagined would be stuck in a perpetual pout. Besides the lips, the rest of his face was the epitome of masculinity: high, sculpted cheek bones, defined jaw-line, and a strong nose.
His heavy gaze sent a chill up my spine. What a creep. His husky-like eyes left me to land on Lucy, who he stared at just as intensely. I looked away with a scowl to finish scanning the lunch line for Allison. She had already paid and was walking toward our table.
“Oh come on,” Allison said as she approached and noticed my scowl, “your day could not have been that bad.”
Turning my scowl into a grin, I taunted, “Don’t worry Al, it’ll get better. We have gym next.”
Allison’s mocking smile faded. She whipped her hair over her shoulder and sat down next to me as she placed her lunch tray on the table. “Gee, Xoe, thanks for reminding me, and don’t call me Al.”
Gym was the bane of Allison’s existence, as was my habit of calling her Al. She wasn’t into sports of any kind, though she would probably be pretty good at them if she actually tried. Contrary to her tastes as a seemingly traditional girly girl, she was one of the toughest people I had ever met, and would probably kick butt at some of the more aggressive sports if she actually tried. She was definitely not a book to be judged by its cover.
Unlike Allison, I actually liked gym. With my height and a fair amount of coordination, I'm decent at sports, and gym doesn’t require hours of boring teaching. I have trouble sitting still for too long.
Allison turned to Lucy. “So Xoe and I are going shopping this weekend. You in?”
Lucy turned a speculative eye to me. “Xoe? Shopping? My how the times have changed.”
I pursed my lips into an exaggerated pout. “I need new socks.”
Lucy laughed. “Ah, the truth comes out.” Then turning back to Allison added, “I’ll come. I need a new toothbrush.”
Allison crossed her arms and glared back and forth between us. “You're both updating your wardrobes if it’s the last thing I do. I feel less fashionable just sitting near you.”
Lucy rolled her eyes at me as Allison changed the subject to how her day had been so far. As Allison prattled on, I looked over my shoulder to scan the cafeteria for the creepy staring guy. I spotted him almost immediately sitting with Max, a J.V. soccer player, and yep, still staring.
Noticing my distraction, Allison took a break from her monologue to turn and follow my gaze. “Who’s the hunk?”
“That creep has been staring over here since we sat down,” I grumbled.
Allison smirked. “He's hot, maybe you should go teach him some manners.”
I raised an eyebrow at her comment. “I will never understand your taste in men. He looks like an overly-primped jerk.”
Allison raised both of her eyebrows in surprise. “My Xoe, you sure are feeling judgy today. That's supposed to be my job.” She rose from her seat and looked over at Creepy Guy.
Realizing her intent, I reached for her arm and tried to pull her back down. “No way Al,” I chided. “Don't even think about it.”
Ignoring my comment, Allison pulled her arm away from me. With a mischievous smile, she hustled away from our table, then waltzed right up to Creepy Guy. She sat down on the other side of his table, facing him and Max companionably.
I shook my head and turned back to Lucy. We exchanged similar looks of resignation.
I sighed loudly. “And so it begins.”
Lucy began to reply, then quickly turned her gaze down to the tabletop. I turned partially around to see what had interrupted Lucy. Allison was walking toward us, leading Creepy Guy by the hand. They came to stand at the head of our table.
Allison twined her arm through Creepy Guy’s, which remained limp. “Girls, this is Dan. He’s new here.” Allison nodded in Lucy’s direction. “That’s Lucy,” then nodded to me, “and that lovely example of radiant good cheer is Xoe.”
Allison released Dan’s arm and took a seat next to Lucy, leaving only one option for Dan. I had a moment to glare at Allison for her cruelty, then Dan sat next to me with a quizzical look, like he didn’t quite know what I was. I quickly turned away and found my gaze wandering back to Max, who was now sitting alone, looking confused. He stood and walked straight out of the cafeteria like a sleepwalker. I stared for a moment at the now empty doorway, wondering what had gotten into Max to make him act so strangely.
When I turned back to our table, I noticed Dan's gaze had drifted to Lucy. The look he gave her was far different from the confused one he had given me. He looked at Lucy like she was a piece of meat, and he wasn't even trying to hide it.
I expected Lucy to be squirming under the pressure of Dan’s gaze, but instead she offered him a coy smile. My mouth fell open in surprise. I’d never seen Lucy flirt before, and I couldn't believe she'd chosen that moment to start. Dan didn’t really seem her type, though I didn’t actually know what her type was. Lucy, like me, didn’t date a lot.
Allison, on the other hand, I was used to. She flirted up dates on a regular basis, and had no problem talking to guys. She was born to flirt, and flirt she did.
Before I knew what had happened, Allison’s flirting magic had involved Dan in our shopping plans for the weekend, which had been altered to movie plans . . . gre-at. I would have rather gone shopping, and that was saying a lot. Dan had not made a good first impression on me.
My own thoughts began to tune out the conversation as Allison continued to quiz Dan on where he was from and any other inane fact she could think of. I felt uncomfortable sitting next to Dan. Waves of creepiness emanated from him. Okay, so maybe “waves of creepiness” was a little dramatic, but there was something very strange about him. He made my skin crawl. He shifted so that his elbow brushed mine, and I struggled not to rub the goose bumps that instantly erupted on my arms.
I scooted away and watched him have a seemingly normal conversation with Lucy and Allison, while I tried to pinpoint what had me on edge. Listening to him talk, he seemed perfectly normal, but his face shattered the illusion. His gaze never left Lucy, even when he was answering one of Allison’s questions. It was like he was trying to memorize every small detail of her face. It was downright unnerving.
The bell rang, startling me. I stood abruptly and gathered up my uneaten lunch, grateful for once that lunchtime was over. Ignoring Dan, I said bye to Lucy, then grabbed onto Allison, who was entering Dan’s phone number into her cell. As soon as she finished, I hurried her away from our table, leaving Dan and Lucy behind. I could feel the electric pressure of Dan’s eyes on us the entire way.
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